Big plans for a small town: 3L student makes waves winning AALA’s Student Poster Contest
By: Kelsey Givens
For 3L Evin Bachelor, winning the American Agricultural Law Association’s (AALA) 2017 Student Poster Competition this fall provided him with more than just the satisfaction of a job well done. It gave him the opportunity to network with attorneys practicing in an area he hopes to someday pursue.
“I didn’t go in expecting anything. The most I expected was that I would be able to go and present and maybe learn more about what people in the industry think about agricultural mediation,” he said.
“When I won, I was just really honored to not only have been selected as having done well, but also for having had the opportunity to make these connections. Now the ultimate hope is that someone might be able to start an agricultural mediation program in Ohio.”
As someone who has always wanted to find a career path that focused on public service and helping others in his community, law school seemed like a natural fit for Bachelor, who majored in history and political science as an undergraduate at Ohio State.
Having grown up in a rural county in western Ohio, Bachelor has long felt the call to small town practice. With family members involved in agriculture, he heard about the legal troubles facing agricultural producers and recognized that experience in this field would be vital to his ability to practice in a rural community. To gain this experience, he chose to explore an agricultural related topic for his Mediation Clinic paper, and pursued an internship with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“Agricultural law itself combines a lot of different areas. It combines a lot of estate and succession planning, business organizations, regulations, taxes; it pulls from a lot of different areas,” he explained.
“The law school doesn’t have a course on agricultural law right now, so career services referred me to Professor Peggy Kirk Hall at Ohio State’s College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. She is an attorney who works with The Ohio State University Extension, and one of the opportunities she told me about was this American Agricultural Law Association Conference down in Louisville.” With the assistance of the Paul L. Wright Endowment in Agricultural Law at Ohio State, Bachelor was able to attend the AALA conference.
Bachelor’s project, Ohio: The Midwestern Ag Mediation Holdout, focused on a program under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that gives states funds to establish mediation programs for citizens that have issues with the USDA, primarily concerning loan issues. Ohio is one of only 10 states that have not accepted funds from the USDA to start its own program, Bachelor said. His paper specifically examined questions about what the program is, why most states have it, why Ohio doesn’t have it, and should the state consider implementing it in the future?
The AALA’s competition is designed to allow law students to “demonstrate their understanding of an agricultural law topic and their ability to relate that understanding to an audience of professionals from private practice, governmental agencies, and academia,” according to the association’s website.
Students were asked to submit a poster, abstract, and short video presentation explaining their project. Bachelor competed against several other law students from across the country and ultimately took first place. He also participated on a team that took first place in the law student quiz bowl tournament.
“The best part about the whole experience was when I got to the conference there were a lot of people who knew about this program in their own states. I had the opportunity to talk with people from Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota and other areas from all over the country who are dealing with these programs. It gave me an even greater insight into these issues than what I came in with,” he said.